As much of the country has found out the hard way, winter weather can come at a moment’s notice, and this can have a significant impact on the operations and overall functionality of your warehouse.

Specifically, from a safety standpoint, winter can be one of the most challenging times of year. The dramatic increase in incoming and outgoing packages can be enough to deal with for your staff, but when you combine this influx of inventory with the hazardous conditions presented by the cold and snow, you can find yourself facing a new set of problems seemingly every day.

These problems, like so many others in the warehouse, can be overcome with a little planning and foresight. By staying aware of these potential winter hazards, you can keep your warehouse safe and functioning to its full potential this time of year:

 

Keep high-traffic areas clean

Warehouse floors are a source of constant traffic, and this can get even worse during the busier winter months. In addition to preventing the usual clutter and mess in aisleways (packages not put away properly, work tools left in an area they don’t need to be in), make sure to schedule frequent cleaning rotations to keep your walkways clear of tracked-in snow, slush, and puddles of water.

 

Check equipment for snow-related damage

Any of your material handling equipment that gets even slightly exposed to the elements (by working in a receiving dock that opens directly outside, for example) will need to be frequently cleaned and inspected for potential damage from exposure to cold weather, snow, and salt. Schedule regular checks of all your material handling tools to prevent damage and keep everything running through the busy months.

 

Maintain proper storage capacity

During these cold, busy months, the temptation may be there to start over-burdening your warehouse shelving to help keep up with demand, but this can actually lead to bigger problems down the road. Prevent damage to your pallet racking by carefully observing all specified manufacturer’s capacity limits, give your shelves and racks frequent safety inspections to prevent damage and misuse, and install pallet rack safety guards when needed to keep product from being knocked off onto the floor by mistake.

 

Mark off hazardous areas

Areas that experience a lot of snow being tracked through – such as any area right near a loading dock – should be carefully marked to indicate to your workers the need for careful travel, especially while carrying products. Use signage to indicate where spills and puddles have formed and set up warehouse guard rails to help set the safest path to and from any area that may be affected by outdoor weather conditions.

 

Keep the shop floor warm

As obvious as it sounds, the need to keep your team comfortable is a high priority this time of year. Above and beyond the usual concerns, cold working conditions can lead to more serious health issues like dehydration and even frostbite. Provide sufficiently warm weatherproof gear for your team to work in exposed areas and encourage them to take regular breaks to eat and drink – staying properly hydrated can go a long way towards staving off the cold and preventing further injury.

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